Apart from the Text

W. Malcolm Watson (Formerly Head, Department of Information  and Library Management, University of  Northumbria at Newcastle upon Tyne)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Malcolm Watson, W. (2000), "Apart from the Text", Library Review, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 139-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/lr.2000.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is the presentation volume for members of the Private Libraries Association for 1995‐6. It is written by an antiquarian bookseller who is internationally known not only through the firm founded by his father, Bertram Rota, but also through his lectures in a wide range of academic institutions and his many writings on book collecting and bibliography. Basically, the work is an introduction to various aspects of book production and the book trade. As is stated in the Introduction “. . . this is a work about what books have to offer apart from the text”.

This is not a book to turn to for up‐to‐date information on the book trade or book production, since it provides brief historical reviews of, for example, composition which stops short at the introduction of the Monophoto Filmsetter!Paper is given a chapter but again only the early history is covered with scant mention of preservation and conservation and no mention of modern approaches to manufacture. The chapter on design is dominated by comment on early twentieth century development along with reference to some nineteenth century activity but nothing of significance on developments of the past 25 years. Similar comments can be made about the chapter on bookbindings which is subtitled “from boards to Linson” – much has happened since Linson was introduced!

The book jacket is not neglected but what is covered is readily available from several other sources and comments on modern aspects of book jacket design are so brief as to be insignificant. Book illustration is given brief treatment and is confined to autographic processes. The omission of any reference to the photographic processes is serious in a work titled Apart from the text.

The first seven chapters are concerned with the physical aspects of book production. There then follow three chapters concerned with the published format of the book, namely, the “three decker”, past issues and serials and series publishing and the yellow back. An appendix on further reading is provided which is admitted as being “a list of personal and admittedly idiosyncratic recommendations” – limitations of such a list do not need to be spelled out!There is an adequate index.

This is a book which must be regarded as a very personal review of book production and the book trade written as an introductory work. It is for those with an interest in book collecting but with little previous knowledge of book production and distribution. It would be useful in public lending and school libraries.

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